Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Festive Fare

Three days of family feasts-made from scratch using favorite recipes and foods.  Here are two of those recipes that might be good for a New Year's Eve buffet.

Mexicano Shrimp & Vegetable Kabobs

(10 skewers)

Peel shrimp, leaving tail intact.  Clean and cut vegetables.
20 jumbo, tail on, deveined raw shrimp
10 baby portabella mushrooms, halved
2-3 zucchini squash, chunked
1 orange sweet peppers, seeded and cut in half

Mix marinade ingredients.
4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon olive oil
4 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano leaves

Place shrimp and vegetables in a large zipper storage bag.  Pour over marinade.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

Assemble kabobs, alternating colors on skewers.  Bake at 325 F. for 15 minutes.

Recipe from McCormick.

Rainbow Pesto Pasta

(Serves 10)

Pour 1/3 cup boiling water over sun-dried tomatoes.  Soak for 10 minutes.
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)

Combine drained tomatoes, almonds, basil, garlic and cheese in a mini food processor.  Process until finely chopped, adding some of the tomato soaking water if necessary.
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1/4 cup fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup parmigiano type cheese, grated

Saute celery, shallots, peppers and mushrooms in oil for 3-5 minutes.
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 c shallots, diced
1/2 cup fennel, sliced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
2 teaspoon olive oil
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain, reserving a small amount of water.
12 ounce rainbow pasta 

Combine sauteed vegetables with pesto and pasta.  Add some of the pasta water as needed.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Memory Makers

"The best memories are about things we did, not things we bought" .  Food and things we make together are big memory makers.  Bob and I made the house together last weekend, the day we decorated the tree.  A cardboard kit with a few embellishments we glued, painted and embellished together.  The cranberry chutney is a seasonal favorite.  I made and canned some 4 dozen (1/2 cup) servings this year for Moms' friends at the Senior Center and for Bob's coworkers.  (The recipe is on the jar lid).

The cookie recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking Magazine.  I didn't change much, other than to reduce the sugar.  They were a bit time consuming and a bit pricey, but delicious.  I packed 2 each in little cellophane bags for Bob's coworkers with a few bags left for Bob and I.

Winter Stollen Cookies

(40 Cookies)

Combine flour, almonds, sugar, egg whites and salt.  Beat on medium speed until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.
4 1/2 ounce almond flour
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3 tablespoon sugar
2 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a mixer with paddle attachment, beat the sugar and buttery spread on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
1 cup sugar
1 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread

Reduce the speed to low, add the eggs and egg yolk and beat until just incorporated.
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
Stop the mixer.

Mix flours, baking powder and salt.
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Add to mixer.
Add cherries, cranberries, lemon zest and orange zest.
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoon orange zest 

Add vanilla extract.
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix on low until just combined.

Roll the dough between two pieces of parchment into a rectangle 1/2 inch thick, measuring about 9 1/2 X 13 1/2.  Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate the dough about 1/2 hour.

Remove the top sheet of parchment.  Spread the almond filling over the dough to the edges.  Starting on the long side, tightly roll the dough around the filling .  Pinch the long seam closed.  Wrap in parchment.  Freeze 6 hours or overnight.

Position rack in center of the oven.  Preheat to 350 F.  Line baking sheets with parchment.
Unwrap the frozen dough.  Slice in scant 1/4 inch thick rounds.  Transfer slices to baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.
Brush with melted buttery spread.
2 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Bake 12-14 minutes, rotating sheets and swapping their positions halfway through baking.

Brush warm cookies with more melted butter.  Sift confectioners' sugar over them.
2 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 Tablespoon Confectioner's Sugar 
Cool on baking sheet 15 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Mulled Turkey

An aromatic blend of spices-cumin, coriander, cinnamon and fennel-adorn this turkey tenderloin.  Combined with twice baked potatoes and Gruyere, our supper culminated a "Happy Friday". The recipes both were inspired by Food Network Magazine.  The 1/2 pound turkey tenderloin cooked in just over an hour in a counter-top "slow" cooker (on high).  The medium local potatoes baked in a toaster oven in less than an hour and, once stuffed, browned in about 15 minutes.

Mulled Turkey

(Serves 2-3)

Mix spices together.  Dip turkey into spices, pressing mixture against the breast.  Place spice rubbed tenderloin on a shallow rack inside a slow cooker.  Drape with garlic and shallots.
1-.58 pound turkey tenderloin
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoon shallots, diced

Place broth and lemon in bottom of crock pot.  Cook on high for 1 hour.
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lemon cut in wedges

Brush turkey with a vinegar/mustard blend.  Continue baking until turkey interior reaches 165 F.
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Slice with electric knife.  Garnish with Cranberry Chutney.
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Molasses Cookie for Mrs. Claus

Mrs. Claus is busy too with visions of family fun during this festive season.  She's mindful of eating and wants a sweet cookie that complies with Dietary Guidelines.  These chewy cookies have 2 teaspoons of added sugar per cookie and are made with 1/2 whole grains.  The recipe was inspired by Southern Living Magazine.  

Molasses Cookies

(26 cookies)

Mix together dry ingredients in a side bowl:  (Flours, baking powder, soda and spices)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In mixing bowl, cream buttery spread and sugar for 2 minutes.
1/2 cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/2 cup brown sugar

Add molasses and vanilla to mixing bowl.  Mix only till blended.
1/4 cup Black Strap molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat in 1 egg.
1 egg

Add flour mix to bowl, about 1/3rd at at time, mixing only till blended.

Scoop heaping tablespoon dippers of dough.  Roll in turbinado sugar.
1/4 cup Turbinado sugar

Place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Bake in preheated oven 9 minutes, switching pans top to bottom racks 1/2 way through.

Cool on pan on wire rack 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack 30 minutes.

This Mrs. Claus ate 1 cookie with my morning coffee, followed by a meal consisting of 1/2 cup homemade granola, 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt and 1 cup skim milk.

I'm off to water aerobics soon, knowing this exercise is good for my bones and my waistline!   

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Tree That's Fun to Take Down

Fresh baked dinner rolls with a cheesy center, homemade tomato soup and fresh pineapple slices made a tummy comfy dinner on this 5th day of Christmas.  The pull apart bread, shaped like a Christmas tree, was inspired by Delish magazine.   I followed a Fleischmann's Yeast dinner roll recipe designed to knead and shape the dough, then allow it to rise in the refrigerator to be baked at a later time.  

Cool Rise Dinner Rolls

(20 mini rolls)

Mix flours, yeast and sugar in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place.
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar

On stove top, heat milk, water and buttery spread to 125 F.
1/2 cup skim milk
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
Gradually add to mixing bowl.  Beat at high speed 2 minutes.

Add additional flour, egg and salt to bowl.  Beat at high speed 2 minutes.
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 egg, warmed slightly
1/2 teaspoon salt

Gradually add remaining flour, kneading until dough leaves sides of bowl, about seven minutes.  Remove dough to a bowl greased with olive oil spray.  Turn and cover.  Allow to rest 2 minutes.
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour 

Divide dough into balls, about 2 tablespoons each.  Shape dough around a 1/2 inch chunk of cheese.  Place about 1/3 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Arrange in a Christmas tree pattern.
2 1/2 cheddar cheese sticks, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
Spray with olive oil spray.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. 

About 45 minutes till dinner, pull tray from refrigerator.  Allow to rest 20 minutes while oven preheats to 375 F. 

Mix egg and water.  Brush over dough balls.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning pan 1/2 way through.
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Garnish with grated cheese, pepper and parsley.
2 tablespoon grated Parmigiano cheese
1 mini sweet red pepper, minced
Fresh parsley, snipped

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Randy Roast

While I purchased the counter-top primarily for dried beans, I've found it's great for quicker cooking of roasts.  Because you can "brown" in the same pan prior to cooking, I'm even more of a cheerleader.  The recipe for Brisket with Apricots and Prunes is from Food and Wine Magazine.   Mine has eye of round roast and more vegetables.

Beef with Apricots and Prunes

(Serves 8 Meat Portions, 4 Vegetable-Fruit Portions)

Brown meat with vegetables in olive oil.
1.75 # eye of round roast
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 large onion, separated into rings
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup red peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Add remaining ingredients.  Program cooker to "Cook" for 45 minutes.
4 turnips, halved
2 medium potatoes, peeled and wedged
6 small carrots, cut in strips
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup diced prunes
8 apricots
For firmer vegetables, add 15-25 minutes later than beef, then cook 20-30 minutes more.  I did not want to have to reduce the pressure to add the vegetables, then bring the pressure up again.

Slice meat with electric knife for thin slices.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Homemade Turkey Bouillon Cubes

After roasting my first fresh turkey of the season on Thursday, I made turkey bouillon cubes the following days.  The process is simple:

  • Strain the broth from the bottom of the roasting pan into a clean shallow pan.  I used a 9 X 14 inch cake pan with a lid. 
  • Refrigerate the broth overnight.
  • Remove the fat layer from the top of the broth and discard.  The fat rises to the top of the broth after cooling and is very easy to remove. 
  • Scoop the broth into clean ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
Remove bouillon cubes from ice trays.  Place in a storage container with a lid.  Freeze and remove cubes as needed.

To make a delicious homemade stock, use 1 ice (bouillon cube) per cup of water-just like when using purchased bouillon cubes.  


Friday, November 25, 2016

Garrett County Goodness

Only 30-35 miles from home, a trip to Garrett County, Maryland is rewarded in beautiful scenery and premium local foods. With the harvest season ending and Christmas season upon us, it was a good day to make Pablo's Creamy Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Soup.  The recipe features Firefly Farms Allegheny Chevre where a little of this homemade goat cheese "goes a long way to offset the rich sweet notes in pumpkin soup".   While purchasing cheese at Firefly Creamery, I also found this grainy bread that was perfect for a leftover Thanksgiving Turkey sandwich.  The pie pumpkin was purchased at Klotz Farm Friendsville store earlier in the season.  The turkey is a Working H Farms couldn't be fresher bird (it was alive on Monday).

I modified the original recipe to utilize the ingredients I had on hand.

Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Soup

(6 Cups)

Quarter pumpkin, removing pulp and seeds.  Spray with oil.  Roast at 425 F. for 45 minutes.
1 pie pumpkin
Olive oil spray
Remove peel and dice roasted pumpkin.

In a large saucepan, sauté onion, fennel and celery in olive oil 3 minutes.
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoon fennel, diced
2 tablespoon celery stalks and leaves, diced
2 tablespoon olive oil

Stir in curry powder and sauté 1 minute.
1 tablespoon curry powder

Add ginger, orange juice, zest and stock.
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
Juice and zest from 1 orange
3 cups low sodium chicken stock (GMO free)
Add roasted pumpkin.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer 30 minutes.

Stir in milks, goat cheese, salt and seasoning.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Carefully add 3 cups of soup to a blender at a time.  Remove center piece of blender lid.  Cover lid and open center with a cloth and blend until smooth.  Return blended soup to saucepan and simmer until hot but not boiling.
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1 cup Allegheny Chevre
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash

Carefully remove seeds from pulp.  Wash, dry and spread on a baking sheet.  Roast at 500 F. for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to prevent burning.
Pumpkin seeds
Garnish soup with roasted seeds.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Give Small Farms a Big Hand

A small family with big hearts, dreams and the strongest of work ethics reach an even bigger community through the animals they raise and the foods that they sell.  Beef, pigs, chickens, eggs, sheep and turkeys-all raised humanely, free range and chemical free on their West Virginia farm-then processed in their USDA plant and sold in their own farm store. . . it's a 15 hour a day project, 7 days a week.  Then there's outreach through Farmers Markets and restaurant sales.  Other farmers bring their animals to the plant for processing and the devoted customers grow even bigger.  There seems to be no stopping the Hardesty family and their work at the Working H Farms.  But it's never easy.  Sickness and sometimes excessive demands rear yet they make it through, with even more satisfied customers than before.  Small business supports an extended community. . . and we support them.  

I get a message early Monday morning (Thanksgiving Week) asking for help at the store.  Two of the six regular staff will not be in and 200 turkeys plus are ordered.  Four relief staff quickly respond and the work continues.  I get the easy job, working the front of the store, taking calls, waiting on customers and organizing.  The professionals tackle the turkey processing line. 
The work continues, ice baths, trimming, weighing, vacuum packing and tagging.  One of the most tedious parts of the process was matching a specific turkey and weight to the customer who ordered. Think about it, finding a 16.27 pound turkey in a cold cooler with a couple hundred turkeys can't be easy, yet making a game of it made it fun.

Less than 24 hours after the turkeys walked cage free they were delivered to customers to place in their home refrigerators ready for the Thursday meal.

Here's my Thanksgiving platter-full of local foods: 
Turkey from Working H marinated in a brine made with Martinsburg Apples,
Cornbread Stuffing made with Hawthorne Valley Blue Cornmeal, Working H Italian Sausage, Stewart's Farm Celery, Evans Knob Farm Fennel and Mountain Harvest Onions,
Maple Roasted Carrots featuring the crisp roots from Mountain Harvest and Charm Farm Maple Syrup,
Mashed Potato Casserole with Potatoes from Harmony Farms and Firefly Farms Cheese. 
Our appetizer platter contained Broccoli and Purple Cauliflower from DeBerry Farms.

My friend Becky made delicious homemade rolls and Black Cherry Jello.  The black cherry dish was Luke's Grandmothers' recipe that "cleaned the palate" and was a delicious alternative to cranberry sauce.

The potato recipe was inspired by Food and Wine Magazine, a make-ahead recipe assembled, then baked prior to the meal.

Mashed Potato Casserole

(Serves 8)

Combine potatoes and water to cover by 2 inch in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and cook 12 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a mixing bowl.
2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut in inch pieces

Add buttery spread and mix.  Fold in cheese and spices.
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk, warmed in microwave
1 tablespoon celery leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon sage
4 ounce Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
Spread into baking dish greased with olive oil spray.

Mix crumbs and cheese.
3 tablespoon breadcrumbs
3 tablespoon Parmigiana Cheese
Sprinkle over potatoes.

Bake at 400 F. until internal temperature reaches 150 F.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pear Tartlet with my PreThanksgiving Breakfast

My tummy was empty after a busy start to the holiday week.  This Sunday Pear Tart (assembly required) was the start to my day (followed up with vegetable soup).  The recipe was inspired by Cooking Lite.

Lemon Pear Tart.  Ricotta & Wine Glaze 

(6 Servings) 

Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and rosemary in food processor.  With motor running, add oil.  Press into bottom of 8 inch springform pan.  Cover with foil.  Bake at 375 F. for 15 minutes.  Cool.
1/3 cup & 1 heaping tablespoon all purpose flour
3 tablespoon & 2/3 teaspoon whole grain cornmeal
2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
2 tablespoon pecan oil

On stove top, bring wine, water, lemon and sugar to a boil.  Add pear halves and simmer 7 or 8 minutes.  Remove pears, cool and slice.  Cool sauce in a small bottle.
2/3 cup wine (pink tone)
1/2 cup water
1 (2 inch) strip lemon rind
3 small pears, peeled, cored and halved
2 teaspoon sugar

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, salt, milk, cornstarch and yolk.  Stir continuously while thickening.  Stir in milk and cook 1 minute.  Remove from heat;  add ricotta, yogurt, lemon rind and vanilla.  Cover and chill 1 hour.
3 tablespoon skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoon non GMO cornstarch
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon sugar
Dash salt
3 tablespoon & 2/3 teaspoon part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoon nonfat plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon vanilla 

Spread ricotta mixture over crust.  Arrange pear wedges over ricotta.  Drizzle with glaze.




Friday, November 18, 2016

Preparing for Winter in My Kitchen

I'm a local and seasonal food fan, so when asked if I'd like a copy of Beth Dooley's farm to fork book, "In Winter's Kitchen" I replied a quick yes!  In the book, Beth personalizes the path from farm to fork with chapters on 12 foods and the farmers who grow them.  "When we look for local ingredients at the farmers markets, we create friendships that extend well beyond zip codes."  "Farmers need to link with cooks and eaters."   

Our dinner tonight has eggs and pork from a local farm family, where animals are freely
walking outside.  The buckwheat flour in the homemade pasta was freshly ground at a nearby farm. 

Buckwheat Pasta with Pork  & Greens

(4 Servings)

In mixer with dough hook in place, mix flours and salt.  Add eggs and oil.  Knead for 5 minutes.  Wrap dough ball in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup & 2 tablespoon buckwheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Divide dough in half.  Flatten dough and run through pasta maker to a 1/16th thickness.  Cut in 2 inch strip, then cut strip in 2 1/2 inch squares, then triangles.  Lay on parchment paper and repeat with remaining dough.  Cover top layer with paper.

Bring salted water to a rapid boil.  Cook 1/2 of pasta for 3 minutes.  Drain and cook remainder.

Sauté garlic in oil.  Add tenderloin to one side of pan.  Add beaten egg to another side of the pan and scramble.  Add greens to garlic and wilt.  Warm pasta triangles in skillet with topping.
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounce roasted pork tenderloin, cut in bite size strips
1 egg
2 cups mixed greens

Garnish with shredded cheese.
1/3 cup shredded cheese

The recipe was inspired by Food and Wine magazine. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Brown Sugar Pork with Apples & Cheddar Polenta

Ginger and brown sugar pork tenderloin with apples over creamy cheddar polenta sounds like the perfect autumn supper. . . and it was!  The recipe was inspired by Fine Cooking Magazine.  I cooked the pork in my counter-top pressure cooker, then added the apples for the last 15 minutes. While the apples cooked, I cooked the polenta on stove top, set the table and ate with only 1 hour of total cooking and preparation time. 

Pork Tenderloin, Apples & Polenta

(4 Servings)

Place juice, vinegar and Mrs. Dash in counter top pressure cooker.  Add trimmed tenderloin.  Press brown sugar into top of tenderloin.
1-1# pork tenderloin
2 cups apple juice
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash
Tighten lid.  Close pressure valve. Set cook time for 30 minutes.

Release pressure.  Add apples.  Tighten lid.  Close pressure valve. Set cook time for 15 minutes.
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

Cheddar Polenta
On stove-top, bring milk to a simmer.  Add salt.
1 cup skim milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

Slowly stir grits into water.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
1/3 cup corn grits

Add water and cook 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
1/3 cup water

Remove from heat.  Stir in cheddar.
1/3 cup aged cheddar, shredded

Garnish with thyme.
1/2 teaspoon thyme


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cider Meal Rules!

Crisp fall weather and the end to daylight savings time led to this comforting autumn meal with mulled apple flank steak with Yorkshire pudding.  The steak was marinated with apple juice and seasonings, then poured over vegetables in a Dutch oven to roast.  After pulling the Dutch oven, I increased the temperature to 450 F. to make the popovers.

Mulled Cider Flank Steak

(Serves 4)

Whisk together cider, vinegar, spices and brown sugar.  Add lemon rounds, squeezing lightly to release juices.  Pour this marinade over flank steak and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or overnight. 
1# Beef Flank Steak
3/4 cup Apple Cider
1/4 cup Cider Vinegar
Dash Cloves
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
1/4 tsp. Cardamom
Dash Allspice
Dash Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 Lemon, halved

When ready to cook, heat oven to 350 degrees.  Place vegetables in Dutch oven.  Pour marinade over vegetables and place flank steak on top.  Cover and roast for 60 minutes.  Slice meat across the grain to serve.  
1 onion, cut in 1 inch chunks
6 colorful carrots, peeled and cut in 3 inch pieces
4-6 small Potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

8 baby Bella mushrooms, stems removed
2 stalks celery

Yorkshire Pudding

(6 Popovers)

Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl.  Whisk until totally combined.  Add the flour and salt.  Whisk until smooth.  Portion batter into greased muffin tin.  Bake in hot 450 degree F. oven for 12-1 minutes, until "popped".  

2 eggs
1/3 cup & 1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup & 1 tablespoon skim milk